Girl, 5, Fined for Setting up Lemonade Stand Without License

November 3, 2017 Updated: November 4, 2017    

A 5-year-old girl in California decided to set up a lemonade stand to raise money for a new bike, but was later told by officials that she needed a business license.

Autumn Thomasson set up a stand in the city of Porterville, California, in June and raised enough money for her bike in 24 hours.

Several months later, her mother, Gabby Dehaas, was appalled to receive a letter in the mail from Porterville’s Finance Department. It included a citation ordering her to pay for a business license for her daughter’s lemonade stand, together with an image from her Facebook post,  Fox 26 reports.

“I was thrown back by that. I didn’t appreciate a screenshot of my daughter sent back to me,” DeHaas told the news outlet.

In a Facebook post, Dehaas vented her frustration about the “pettiness of the reasoning” of the letter.

She was asked to send back a $25 fee, the cost of applying for a business license.

“What kind of world do we live in where kids can’t do lemonade [a] stand or any kind of stands [sic] for that matter without getting in trouble?!” wrote Dehaas in a Facebook post.

She added, “I just got fined for my daughter have [sic] a 3 hour lemonade [stand] a couple months ago, so she could know how to earn enough money, to know a value of a dollar!”

Dehaas and her 5-year-old daughter. (Gabby Dehaas/Facebook)

Commenters on Facebook expressed anger and surprise over the bureaucracy and red tape, with many calling it unbelievable, ridiculous, and “just wrong.”

“Support our youth and teach them hard work, not bureaucratic red tape. Spirit of the law should’ve prevailed over the letter of the law in this case. Shame on whoever ticketed this girl and her family,” wrote one user.

The 5-year-old raised around $70 selling lemonade for $1 a cup, candy for $1, and snacks for $.50, the Daily Mail reported.

The city of Porterville has since apologized, according to the Washington Times.

Porterville City Manager John Lollis said the letter was sent by mistake after an anonymous resident complained, and said a license is not needed to sell lemonade.